August 21, 2014 in Sports

NCAA only allows football players a maximum of 20 hours a week, but in reality it is closer to 50

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Perhaps student-athletes should manage their time better.

Shower faster, don’t get hurt, and by all means don’t talk to the media.

The NCAA mandates that college athletes spend no more than 20 hours a week devoted to their sport, but takes an inventive approach to what counts toward those 20 hours:

Physical rehabilitation and medical treatment, even if it’s needed to participate in sports: not counted. Travel to road games? Not counted. Dressing, showering and taping, before and after athletic events? Nope.

There’s much more that’s off the table, including the training table itself; plus tutoring sessions, fund-raising activities and media interviews.

What does count toward those 20 hours? Practices, weight-training, film sessions and other meetings expressly required by the coaches. That’s it.

The operative word is “required.” Often, these activities are deemed voluntary, especially individual summer workouts that have become the norm in college football. Most college football players remain on campus during the off-season, fine-tuning their muscles and their timing along with their teammates.

During the playing season, players often gather for meetings and film sessions that are voluntary in name only; miss them and you not only risk being ostracized by your teammates, but falling a step behind them as well.

The same goes for practices: a 2-hour session often begins half an hour earlier, and many players stay late – “voluntarily.”

Game days count for three hours, even though football players, for example, arrive up to three hours before the contest begins and routinely spend a total of 7 hours by the time they leave for home.

It all adds up to an average of 40 to 50 hours a week, the National Labor Relations Board Region 13 found in issuing a ruling last March granting Northwestern University football players the right to unionize.

The decision is considered a major blow to the NCAA’s amateurism rules, and may lead to changes in college athletics, but that could be years away.

In the meantime, the NCAA is sticking to its 20-hour rule, and forcing its athletes to break it.


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